Subject: Alwi Shihab: UN Security Council Mission To Visit Indon in November"

Tempo Interaktif, October 13, 2000

Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab: "United Nations Security Council Mission To Visit Indonesia in November"

TEMPO Interaktif, New York:The mystery over whether the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) mission to Indonesia would arrive or not has finally been revealed. The UNSC mission will visit West Timor (East Nusa Tenggara) on November 13-19, 2000. The agreement was reached at a meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alwi Shihab, and the UNSC members at the UN headquarters in New York, USA, on Thursday afternoon(12/10) local time (Friday morning Indonesian Time).

According to Alwi, the agreement does not mean that Indonesia has surrendered to international pressure. The Indonesian government invited the UNSC mission to visit West Timor. By coincidence, he said, the UNSC mission would also visit East Timor at the invitation of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) Head, Sergio Vieira de Mello. This visit had been cancelled several times. "Therefore, we see nothing wrong with inviting them to Atambua while they visit East Timor during the second week of November. They happily accepted the invitation, considering it a positive development from the Indonesian government," Alwi said at a press conference attended by TEMPO Interaktif, Antara, RCTI, SCTV, and Jakarta Post news organizations.

The arrival of the UNSC mission in Atambua, Alwi added, would honor the Terms of Reference established by Indonesia. The mission will not conduct an investigation. The mission will only witness the progress achieved by Indonesia in implementing UNSC resolution no. 1319. "We have already agreed that the mission would monitor the situation so that the UN could properly direct its aid to Indonesia to settle the Atambua incident," he explained. Besides the UNSC mission, Indonesia will invite the donating countries to visit Atambua.

Alwi decribed this meeting with the UNSC as cooperative and constructive. This contrasts with the fractious encounter with the Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, three weeks ago. During that meeting, Alwi said, the meeting participants confronted the Indonesian government. Many UNSC members expressed their pessimism about Indonesia's commitment to settle the Atambua incident. "Now, they express appreciation for the Indonesian government's efforts to settle the case. It seemed like all the UNSC members showed sympathy with Indonesia and a cooperative spirit emerged during the meeting. Most of the members praised Indonesia for keeping its promise," he asserted.

Supporting Alwi's statements, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, praised the Indonesian government, particularly the arrest of a top militia leader, Eurico Guterres. "We have to admit that the Indonesian government has taken important steps on the right path," he said, as quoted by Reuters. However, Holbrooke added, the US would continue to monitor the situation in Atambua, in particular the armed militias.

Even Alwi was forced to admit that the UNSC members still focus on the militia problem. The UNSC members considered the militias the main obstacle and if Indonesia failed to provide a security guarantee, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) workers would not return to Atambua. "Therefore, they want Indonesia to quickly reestablish security in Atambua so that the UNHCR workers could return and lessen Indonesia's burden in handling the refugees," said Alwi, who was accompanied by the Indonesian Ambassador to the UN, Makarim Wibisono, and the Indonesian Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Makmur Widodo.

One solution discussed for the militia problem was their possible recruitment into the Indonesian Military (TNI) or the Civil Service. Or they could be pensioned and made full Indonesian citizens, Alwi added. The government will guarantee appropriate living facilities for the militias.

According to Alwi, most of the militias dream of East Timor's return to the Indonesian nation. The government urges such people to return to East Timor and get involved in the political world there. If they win, he said, they may achieve their dream.

However, should they remain in Indonesia and continue their struggle against East Timor, Indonesia would consider such activities interference in the affairs of another country and act accordingly. "We have no desire to interfere with other countries," Alwi asserted.

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